Depression and Substance Abuse

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If you are experiencing addiction and depression at the same time, you’re not alone. While depression and addiction are aggravating and disruptive conditions, they are also highly treatable. Read on to learn more about addressing addiction and mental health issues effectively.

The Links Between Depression and Substance Abuse

When you’re grappling with both substance abuse and a mental health condition like depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, you’re facing what’s known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Tackling issues related to substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction is challenging in itself and becomes even more so when accompanied by mental health struggles.

In the case of co-occurring disorders, each condition presents its own set of symptoms that can disrupt your ability to function in daily life, maintain a stable household, cope with life’s challenges, and connect meaningfully with others. Beyond this, these disorders can exacerbate each other: untreated mental health issues often lead to worsened substance abuse, and increased substance use can amplify mental health problems.

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Substance Abuse and Depression Statistics

The intersection of substance abuse and mental health issues is more widespread than many realize. 2022 data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) show that:

  • Among U.S. over-18s, 21.5 million people (8.4%) reported a substance use disorder co-occurring with AMI (any mental illness) in that year.
  • Among U.S. over-18s, 7.4 million people (2.9%) reported a substance use disorder co-occurring with an SMI (serious mental illness) in that year.

Two large-scale studies have examined the link between depression and substance abuse.

The first study found that 22.5% of people will experience a mental health issue that is not related to substance use disorders at some point in their lives. By contrast, about 13.5% of people will deal with alcohol abuse or addiction, and 6.1% will face abuse or addiction to drugs other than alcohol. Among those diagnosed with mood disorders:

  • 32% also have a substance use problem
  • 17% of people with major depressive disorder struggle with alcohol abuse
  • 18% of people with major depressive disorder use addictive drugs
  • 56% of those with bipolar disorder experience substance use issues

A second major study found that almost half of all people will experience AMI at some point during their lifetime, with 14% facing alcohol addiction and 8% dealing with drug addiction. About 19% of people will go through a mood disorder at some point. People with depression are twice as likely, and those with bipolar disorder are seven times as likely, to have a substance use problem than those without mood disorders.

Ignoring substance abuse and mental health problems doesn’t make them disappear – rather, they are likely to deteriorate further. Effective steps can be taken to face these challenges, mend relationships, and kickstart the recovery process, though. With the appropriate support, self-help strategies, and treatment, overcoming a co-occurring disorder, rediscovering your sense of self, and steering your life back on course is entirely possible.

Depression and Substance Abuse Treatment

An effective strategy for managing co-occurring disorders involves a comprehensive, integrated approach that addresses both the mental health condition and the substance abuse issue at the same time. Regardless of which problem developed first, achieving lasting recovery hinges on receiving concurrent treatment for both conditions, ideally facilitated by the same healthcare provider or team.

Depending on your particular needs:

  • Mental health treatment might encompass medication, one-on-one or group therapy, self-care practices, adjustments in lifestyle, and the support of peers.
  • Substance abuse treatment could involve detoxification, management of withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and participation in support groups to aid in maintaining sobriety.
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How to Help Someone with Depression and Substance Abuse

Helping someone who is dealing with both depression and substance abuse can be tough but is incredibly valuable. Here are some steps you can take to support them:

  • Educate yourself: Understanding both depression and substance abuse disorders is the first step in offering meaningful support. Knowledge about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options will help you empathize and offer informed advice.
  • Offer your support compassionately: Let the person know you’re there for them without judgment. Offer an open ear for when they’re ready to talk, and assure them of your unconditional support.
  • Encourage professional help: Gently suggest the benefits of professional help from a therapist, counselor, or healthcare provider who specializes in treating co-occurring disorders. Offer to help with the research or accompany them to appointments if they’re open to it.
  • Support their treatment plan: Encourage them to adhere to their treatment plan, including medication, therapy sessions, and lifestyle changes. Your support can make a significant difference in their commitment to recovery.
  • Engage in healthy activities together: Suggest engaging with activities that promote well-being, such as walking, cooking a healthy meal together, or attending a support group meeting. These activities can offer a sense of normalcy and relief.
  • Set boundaries: While supporting them, it’s essential to set healthy boundaries for your well-being – avoid enabling their substance use or sacrificing your mental health.
  • Be patient: Recovery from depression and substance abuse is a journey that often involves setbacks. Celebrate small victories and remain positive and hopeful.
  • Encourage a supportive network: Help them build or maintain a support network of family, friends, and others who have faced similar challenges. Feeling understood and supported by a community can be incredibly empowering.
  • Practice self-care: Supporting someone with depression and substance abuse can be emotionally taxing. Make sure that you’re also looking after your physical and emotional health, seeking support for yourself when needed.
  • Know when to seek emergency help: Be aware of the signs that indicate the need for immediate help, such as talk of suicide or harmful behavior. Know how to contact emergency services or get them to a safe place if necessary.

Keep in mind that while you can offer support and love, the journey to recovery ultimately lies in the hands of the person with dual diagnosis.

Finding Help for Yourself for Depression and Substance Abuse

There are many self-help strategies you can adopt to address both substance abuse and mental health concerns. Achieving sobriety is just the beginning, though. Maintaining your mental health and learning healthier ways to handle life’s stressors are integral to long-term recovery.

Gain more control over your emotions

Since stress is a common trigger for substance abuse, developing effective stress management techniques can prevent you from relying on substances to cope and help in maintaining sobriety. Become aware of what prompts your substance use or mental health issues and plan ahead for how to cope with these triggers without falling back into old habits.

Build and maintain sober connections

Try to regularly connect with friends and family. Emotional support from loved ones is key to calming stress and enhancing your recovery process. Engaging with support groups or therapy improves your chances of staying sober. These groups provide a platform to share experiences and receive support from others facing similar challenges.

Embrace a healthier lifestyle

Physical activity is an effective stress reliever and mood booster. Aim for regular exercise to improve your overall well-being. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing can significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, enhancing emotional well-being. Balanced nutrition helps manage stress and improves mood. Quality sleep helps in managing stress, anxiety, and depression – aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to support your mental health.

Discover new purpose and avoid triggers

Engaging with hobbies or volunteer work can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, reducing the appeal of substance use.  Identify and avoid people, places, and situations that tempt you to use substances. This may involve making significant lifestyle changes.

Remember, integrating these strategies into your life can bolster your recovery and help you build a fulfilling life, free from substance abuse and with managed mental health. It may also be beneficial to engage with evidence-based treatment – here’s how we can help you.

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Get Treatment for Depression and Substance Abuse at Ohio Recovery

The most effective treatment for depression and substance abuse involves integrated dual diagnosis treatment. We can help you with this at Ohio Recovery Centers, and you won’t need to abandon your everyday commitments either.

During outpatient treatment at our facility in Cincinnati, OH, you can engage with personalized and evidence-based treatments around your existing obligations. Those who require more support and structure in recovery can choose more intensive outpatient treatment.

Since all dual diagnoses are unique, expect to access individualized treatments that blend holistic, pharmacological, and behavioral interventions to promote whole-body healing.

Call 877-679-2132 today and begin your recovery right away.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn